If you're a Cincinnati child of the '80s and '90s – and looking for some goofy fun these days (and who isn't?) – check out Michael Flannery's Club Nineteen videos from 1990-95.
Before he became spokesman for Cincinnati Goodwill Industries, Flannery was a stand-up comic who hosted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Animaniacs, Bobby's World, Tailspin and other afternoon cartoons on WXIX-TV (Channel 19). Wearing red eyeglass frames, he'd do quick comedy bits – ranging from three to 30 seconds – between commercials and the 'toons.
Want a blast from the past?
"I forgot what 4-x-3 TV looked like. I also forgot what 32-inch blue jeans looked like."
You'll see Michael – he never used his last name – smashing an alarm clock, introducing Cincinnati Zoo staffers with animals, popping balloons, offering free tickets to see the New Kids On The Block and several videos explaining to his young viewers how to mail a postcard to become a Club Nineteen member.
It worked. Club Nineteen boasted close to 300,000 members in the early 1990s.
"We were the third largest kids' club in the country (among Fox affiliates). Only New York and Los Angeles were bigger," he says.
In 1985 and 1986, Showtime named Flannery the "funniest person in Ohio." When WXIX-TV programmer Patrice Mohn called Flannery about the job, he was in Los Angeles auditioning for sitcoms along with other stand-up comics (Tim Allen, Drew Carey, Ellen DeGeneres, Richard Lewis, Whoopi Goldberg, Chris Rock, George Carlin, Jamie Foxx, Brett Butler, etc).
"Patrice asked if I'd like to do a children's show on Channel 19. I said yes immediately," he said. As a kid, Flannery watched a lot of Channel 19, which started in 1968 as an independent station airing Larry Smith's puppets. "One day I was telling jokes in a nightclub, and the next day I'm doing Club Nineteen."
Technically, Club Nineteen wasn't a TV show. Flannery taped short "interstitial" content that aired around Channel 19's children-oriented programs 2-4 p.m. He spent two days a month writing and shooting the bits. "Five seconds was a long one," he says.
One of his lines that resonated with his young viewers: "Club Nineteen. No grown-ups allowed."
Flannery also solicited a joke of the day from his audience. And he would air pictures of his young fans in segments accompanied by the J. Geils Band's "Freeze Frame."
Today when he meets former Club Nineteen viewers, he posts a selfie with them on Facebook headlined FREEZE FRAME!
Club Nineteen debuted three years before WXIX-TV created a news department and launched the 10 p.m. news in October 1993 from the station's headquarters on Taconic Terrace in Woodlawn. Channel 19 moved to 635 W. Seventh Street in Queensgate in 1994.
"I won the first news Emmy for Fox 19. Yeah, the news kid won the first Emmy for the station. That's not in their history anywhere," he says.
Club Nineteen ended shortly after Flannery hosted the regional Emmy awards in 1995. Jim Zarchin, then WCPO-TV news director, offered him a full-time job co-hosting Channel 9's Good Morning Tristate with Brian Patrick. He later became a features reporter, and did the popular "9 On Your Kids Side" advocacy reports which raised millions for local children with special needs. He also hosted Channel 9's Know It Alls late-night comedy quiz show.
Since 2010 he's been Goodwill's public information officer. He also does stand-up comedy about once a month, except during pandemics.